One hymn down and eleven to go.
I’m excited for this next one as I decided to compose a Reformation hymn.
You may be wondering, what is Reformation? Is that when that Luther guy overthrew the Catholics? I’ve even heard some mistake Martin Luther King Jr. as our namesake before…ummm nope!
During Reformation we celebrate the gift of eternal salvation for all people. I’m not a huge fan of glorifying Martin Luther to high ends and I don’t think he would find it agreeable either. The focus and attention should shine on the message that Martin Luther fought for. The message that your eternal salvation is a gift, your gift, and cannot be earned. It was paid for by Jesus when He, who was perfect, took the sin of all men into Himself… yes, into Himself, painfully died and won in rising from the dead.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
Where does Marty fit in? In the early 1500s, as a monk in the torment of his sin’s guilt he beat himself, fasted, prayed continuously, and fulfilled pilgrimages. Still he felt the darkness of Satan in his conscience. What can I do? What haven’t I done to bring peace to my soul?! Satan tried to convince Luther that Jesus didn’t love him enough… that there was something that he had to do to bring himself that spiritual peace.
It was Luther’s study of God’s Word where he found his light out of the darkness. He noticed that some major teachings of the Catholic church didn’t match the good news that brought his soul freedom in the Bible.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
He misunderstood the righteousness of God as being something held over him instead of something that was given to him.
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:21-24
Once he knew the truth he couldn’t turn back and he had hoped to bring the church to it’s original teachings. You see, it is often thought that Luther wanted to divide the church, but not at all. Once he discovered that his sharing of God’s truths was met with opposition from those within the church he could not recant – for he loved God more than men. Luther preached against indulgences, salvation by works, the position of the pope, and more in his 95 theses. The reformation of 1517 is widely known for Luther’s nailing these theses on the door of the Wittenberg church.
Back then the Bible and church were read and spoke in Latin. Would this be difficult for German speaking people? Of course! People had to ask the priests what the Bible said – no looking it up for themselves. Luther then translated the bible into German.
As we remember Martin Luther’s zeal for truth in teaching God’s Word I hope that we continuously test others and more importantly ourselves in God’s Word.
Do we believe what we believe simply because we were raised in it? Do we believe something because it fits within human reason? Do we believe something because it is practical?
Take God’s Word into your hands and read from it yourself. That is a privilege that not many had and one that Martin Luther fought for.
I recommend watching the Luther film from 2003 by Eric Till.